Many of my clients have confessed that they were nervous before hiring me. They were worried that the result would be more “me” than them. Some clients haven’t worked with a designer before (or it’s been a long time since they have), so they were worried about bills going on forever.
Other people have been worried that because they didn’t have a clear idea of exactly what they wanted, the result would be a mish-mash of styles that they wouldn’t like — and would’ve spent a whole lot of money on.
I’ve put these questions together to help you determine which interior designer is right for you, and to put your mind at ease around some of these concerns. Your home is an extension of you and your family, so it’s crucial that you feel comfortable and happy throughout the interior design process.
And remember, don’t be shy to ask questions — you want this to be a great fit for both of you!
So, what should you ask a designer before you hire them? Here are my top 3 suggestions:
Question #1: Do you get a good feeling from this designer?
OK, this is a question for you, not the designer. The number one reason why my projects have gone well in the past is because the client and I get along. We’ve understood and respected each other, were able to have open and honest conversations, and there was trust between us. While you don’t have to choose someone who’s going to be your best buddy, you want to work with someone who you feel comfortable with.
Interior design projects can run anywhere from 4 months to a couple of years, and things can get hairy during a renovation, so it’s so important that you like and trust the person that’s managing it for you. Now onto what you should ask an interior designer.
Question #2: Do you have a particular style? Can I see images of your past work?
Some designers are known for a particular style, for example, a distinct “coastal” or “traditional” style. If you’re after a certain look, it’s helpful to seek out these designers. Other designers (like Vellum Interiors) may have a connecting thread that links their interiors projects, but they generally design to the client and property’s requirements, rather than to a “look”.
Whether you’re looking for a certain style or not, it’s important that you like what the design studio has produced in the past, so look at their website and Instagram profile to make sure your styles are aligned. Don’t be afraid to ask for more images, too. We often don’t have all our imagery up on our website, because if it’s being published in a magazine, we can’t put them up until the magazine has been released.
Question #3: How do you charge? Can you give me an estimate of what this project will cost?
This question is key. There are many different pricing models for interior design studios, so there’s not really a benchmark to use as a reference point.
The main ways that design studios charge are:
- Hourly fee, charged throughout the project as hours are accrued
- Flat fee, given at the start of a project
- Percentage of build and/or furniture costs
- A combination of the above
Whichever way the firm charges, get a handle on what the project is likely to cost you, at least in terms of design fees. Having this information upfront can save some awkward conversations — with your designer *and* with your other half!— and some angst on your end. It also adds to the understanding and trust you build with your designer, which again, is key to a successful project!
At Vellum Interiors, we charge a flat fee for the design phase of a project, then hourly for the execution phase. We’ve found this fair for everyone, so that you’re not paying for any extra hours, and we are compensated for all time spent working on your project.
For more information on what a design project might cost you, read our blog post on that topic here.
I hope this has helped you to feel more clear on what to ask an interior designer to see if they’re right for you. I wish you all the best in finding the perfect designer for you and your home!
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